About Us

About Hands & Words…

Hands & Words Are Not For Hurting Project®, founded in 1997, is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization located in Salem, Oregon.
An Effective Tool in Abuse & Violence Prevention Education.

Our Mission

It is our dream that the Purple HANDS, symbols of HOPE and of a UNITED STAND not to use violence or tolerate violence, will someday outnumber the countless victims who have suffered and died as a result of violence!

  • IMAGINE…the Purple HAND being a worldwide symbol of peace
  • CREATE…opportunities for everyone to take the Pledge
  • BELIEVE…we can create a world free of abuse and violence

This project is designed to work in partnership with all abuse and violence prevention, conflict resolution and character building skills programs. The Purple Hands together with the Hands & Words Pledge are the visual and verbal reminders that reinforce a personal commitment of nonviolence.

The Beginnings

This Project began in February of 1997 with the participation of the Salem-Keizer Public Schools In Salem, Oregon. The initial vision was to demonstrate visually that we are making a difference in stopping abuse and violence.

Former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber signs a Newborn Pledge Certificate for his son.

The Purple HANDS Pledges represented our efforts to educate Oregon’s children and adults about abuse and violence and what each one of us can do to stop violence in our own lives and in the world. In just seven weeks, over 11,000 students (K-12) and staff submitted their Pledges for display at the 3rd Annual Domestic Violence Conference for Professionals held at the Elsinore Theatre in Salem, Oregon on April 24 & 25, 1997.

Due to the overwhelming positive response, it was clear that we must pursue this endeavor. A handful of dedicated people formed what is now Hands & Words Are Not For Hurting Project. Although the Project started with the Salem-Keizer schools, it has expanded to other schools and communities throughout the entire 50 states and 11 foreign countries.

In addition to reaching schools, the Hands & Words Project has expanded to include government agencies, the business community, places of worship, battered women’s shelters, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, day care centers and birthing centers for parents of newborns. This Project is for everyone!

The first parents to take the Hands & Words Are Not For Hurting Pledge for their newborn son were Oregon’s First Family, Governor John and Sharon Kitzhaber, in an official ceremony at the Oregon State Capital on December 29th, 1997.

Our Founder

About the Author of the Hands Pledge and Creator of Hands & Words Are Not For Hurting Project®:

Ann S. Kelly, Founder and Executive Director –

Martial Artist/ Self-Defense Specialist, Sandan (Black Belt), Owner/Director Safe & Sound Self-Defense Education, Founding Member and past Chair – Domestic Violence Education & Prevention Coalition of Salem. Married 41 years to husband Bob, together raised three sons and now have four grandchildren.

Ann’s inspiration for writing the Hands & Words Pledge and creating the Purple Hand/Red Heart logo comes from a lifetime of varied experiences. As a martial artist and self-defense specialist teaching classes in self protection, she saw that abuse and violence was escalating, particularly in children. Ann and her husband Bob, an Emergency Physician, work routinely with victims and survivors of abuse and violence and wanted to do more in the area of violence prevention education. It is their belief that education is the light in the darkness and the voice that breaks the silence.

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